COVID-19 April 29, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema

April 29 Coronavirus Update

Today, I want to highlight some of the work being done to manage and prevent the spread of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and congregate care facilities. Due to the nature of any facility where residents (often individuals at high risk for COVID-19) and staff are housed in close quarters and may be limited in their options for social distancing, managing infection control at these facilities is a critical component of our pandemic response.

If you live in one of these facilities or have questions about the resources available to your loved ones or neighbors living in long-term care facilities, the Department of Public Health maintains a Nursing Home Family Resource line operating 7 days a week at 617-660-5399. Additionally, Baypath Elder Services is our area’s regional elder care agency and can be reached at 508-573-7200 (the office is closed, but staff continue to work remotely), and the Center of Hope provides regional services for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and can be reached at (508) 764-4085.

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • There are 60,265 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 1,963 new cases and 3,405 deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • Overall, over 254,000 tests have been conducted by public and private sources.
  • The Department of Public Health has regularly released a daily reporting dashboard containing detailed information on hospitalizations, demographic data, and county-by-county breakdowns of cases. To view the DPH dashboard, visit here.

Local Update:

  • Weekly statewide update of town-by-town COVID-19 case counts:
    • Holliston: 34
    • Hopkinton: 108
    • Southborough: 27
    • Westborough: 209
  • The Department of Public Health releases COVID-19 confirmed positive cases by municipality each week. Three of our four communities report numbers below the statewide infection rate of 0.86%.

Health Care:

  • Hospital Capacity: As of 4/28, 53% of the Commonwealth’s 18,300 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 38% of the region’s 2,600 beds are available for new patients.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: PPE distribution continues across the Commonwealth, with over 1,000,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including 212,000 N95/KN95 masks and 136 ventilators.
  • Mobile testing: The MA National Guard mobile testing unit continues to visit and conduct test at the Commonwealth’s long-term care facilities, having made 443 visits and conducted 20,920 tests as of 4/28.
  • Following yesterday’s announcement of supplementary nursing home funding, the administration released the 28-point infection control checklist that facilities will need to comply with to receive funding. Facilities must satisfy at least 24 points to be considered in compliance, and 6 of the control measures are considered “core competencies” required of all facilities that receive funding.
  • As mentioned above, DPH’s Nursing Home Family Resource line has fielded 4,600 calls since launching and is available 7 days a week, 9am to 5pm, at 617-660-5399.
  • Previously-announced supplementary funding for congregate care facilities will support staff pay increases for 238 different residential service provider agencies which care for 20,500 individuals, including children and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The state plans to increase its monthly reimbursement to those providers in May and June by an additional 15 percent (bringing total “hazard pay” increases to 25 percent), which will be partially reimbursed by federal funds.
  • The Supreme Judicial Court has begun requiring weekly reporting of testing and COVID-19 case counts in Massachusetts’s jails and correctional facilities. This week’s report can be found online here.

Education:

  • The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted yesterday to temporarily modify the competency determination requirement for current high school seniors during the COVID-19 emergency. Under this change, seniors who have not passed one or more of the high school MCAS tests will be able to earn the competency determination through successful completion of a relevant high school course.

Unemployment and Worker Assistance:

Small Business:

  • The 495/MetroWest Partnership and the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board will be conducting weekly town hall discussions of issues MetroWest businesses are facing due to COVID-19 beginning Wednesday, May 6th at 1pm. These discussions are free and open to all MetroWest businesses and registration is online.
  • The MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, is conducting as survey of small businesses impacted by COVID-19. If you are a local small business owner, you can participate online here.

Additional Items

  • Holliston residents: Yesterday, the Board of Health voted to require face coverings in all public spaces and essential businesses, effective immediately. The full order and guidance can be found here.
  • Today, April 29th, is “Denim Day,” which raises awareness of domestic and sexual violence in our communities. If you or someone you know is experiencing or at risk of domestic and sexual violence, please call the state’s SafeLink resource line at 877-785-2020. You can also call 2-1-1, access resources through Jane Doe, Inc. or RAINN, or review the Trial Court’s guidance on obtaining protective orders during the pandemic.
  • On Thursday, May 30th at 2pm, the Department of Public Health will hold a remote youth town hall for young people to speak to experts and each other about COVID-19 and ways to keep their communities safe. Interested participants can register online here.

Resources for Residents Experiencing Job Loss or Loss of Income

COVID-19 is causing broad disruption to the economy which is affecting incomes of many residents and families. There are a number of state resources and supports available to support workers who may find themselves unemployed or otherwise income-constrained during this uncertain time. 

For your convenience, you can find a guide of resources and information at: https://carolyndykema.com/covid19-state-resources/.

Additional Guidance on Unemployment Assistance

Press Release

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